Anxiety is a very common feeling and natural occurrence of dealing with life’s challenges.
It is primarily fuelled by the nervous activation of stress and the emotion of fear, but other emotions can contribute greatly to its intensity, those other emotions are: guilt, grief,shame and anger.
While the experience of anxiety is normal and to be expected occasionally, when we don’t understand it’s configuration and how to process it get become chronic and dictate our life experience negatively. Along with depression ( which is the chronic activation of a negative mood) it is the most prevalent mental health disruptor.
Our human body is designed to detect and act upon perceived threats. Stress and the 5 negative emotions listed before are there to alert us and movilize our mental and physical energy into resolving the threat.
If this threat is psychological or we cannot realise a resolution for it, our response to the threat becomes “stuck” and hence anxiety is activated. If anxiety doesn’t accomplish the resolution of the threat depression can follow. (Nervous system realises activation has not accomplished resolution of threat and proceeds to shut down.)
This blog entry aims to simplify anxiety and it’s resolution, which I will summarise in the next paragraphs. Anyone experiencing recurring anxiety would benefit greatly from seeking therapy. This content is just a guide on how I understand and treat anxiety.
For anxiety to be resolved we first need to unlock it. We unlock it by accepting it( not denying or repressing it, not demanding it goes away quickly). Once we open the lock of its door by accepting it, we need to receive its message. Anxiety is in essence an abstract and sophisticated alarm system. If there is smoke in a forest we can try to blow it away or we can seek the fire that emits it. Anxiety is the smoke that tells us one or more of the 5 emotions has not been properly addressed.
We receive its message by tuning in to the emitters of anxiety: the body and the 5 emotions listed before ( fear, shame, guilt, anger and grief).
We can ask ourselves... how is my anxiety manifesting in my body, where exact is it located? When we locate anxiety in our body we realise only part of ourself feels anxious, whereas other parts don’t.
When we locate the anxiety in our bodies we stop identifying with it so much in our minds. We can then accept it’s temporary discomfort or we can try to resolve it by physically moving in a way that discharges it’s energy. Somatic therapy offers great insights about this. Also Focusing therapy.
We will benefit greatly if we explore how do we feel any of the 5 emotions at this time in our life’s. How do I feel angry, ashamed, scared, sad, guilty?
If we can tackle the fear, anger, in us .. the guilt, Shame and grief, ...anxiety then dissapears as it has accomplished it’s function.
How can express those emotions in a way that doesn’t harm anyone to discharge them? You can answer these question yourself or again, seek help from therapist.
Is there any action that would help resolve those emotions or if not, can I accept that I feel this way at the moment and that I don’t know what to do about it?
Locate how that enotion manifests in your body ( how do I know in my body that I feel this way? ) . Accept that there will be temporary discomfort there, witness it and accept it.
This is a very sinthetysed summary on how to understand and process anxiety.
Resolving anxiety implies completing its cycle, giving it a physical expression, give the emotions involved a voice and clarification of its message.
Rationalizing our anxiety with positive thinking only works if we are relaxed enough. We don’t have access to neocortex if high anxiety as our bodies are in emergency system of fight/ flight or freeze.
Once the body discharges the emotion and message is understood we can decide to plan constructive action about the underlying issue that brought those emotions. This work is best done with trained therapist.